A South Cumbrian man who approached a woman claiming to be a police officer has been jailed.
A man who falsely identified himself as a police officer and approached a woman in a Barrow car park on Tuesday, October 5, saying ‘I’m arresting you’, was sentenced for more than five months.
Gary Shepherd, of Abbey Road in Barrow, appeared before Barrow Magistrates’ Court, on Thursday October 7, where he admitted charges of impersonating a police officer and common assault.
The 44-year-old was, subsequently, jailed for a total of 22 weeks.
The court heard how Shepherd approached the victim as she walked to her car in Greengate car park in Barrow, shortly after 6.30pm on Tuesday evening.
He approached the woman whilst wearing a blue lanyard around his neck, with ‘POLICE’ written on the material strap.
He then attempted to detain the woman, telling her: “I’m arresting you for drug dealing.”
However, the victim was unwilling to accept the man’s claim to be a policeman and so approached a member of the public.
Together the pair challenged Shepherd, who then left the scene.
Shepherd was arrested that night.
In his first police interview, Shepherd initially denied being in the area or committing any offences.
However, in his second interview, officers were able to show evidence he was not telling the truth, at which point Shepherd claimed his actions had been a ‘joke’.
Magistrates invoked immediate activation of Shepherd’s four-week suspended sentence.
For the common assault charge, he was sentenced to 18 weeks’ custodial, to run consecutively from the four weeks activation.
For the impersonating a police officer charge, he was sentenced to 18 weeks custodial, to run concurrently with the assault charge.
He was also fined £85 and ordered to pay costs of £128.
Superintendent for South Cumbria, Matt Pearman, said the incident ‘must have been extremely frightening’ for the victim – as it echos the actions of recently-convicted murderer Wayne Couzens, who killed Sarah Everard.
He said: “Whilst this matter has been dealt with swiftly, it does not change the fact that this is a gravely concerning incident.
“To be approached in this way by someone falsely claiming to be a police officer must have been extremely frightening for the victim, particularly coming so soon after the sentencing of Wayne Couzens last week.
“Our officers recognised the seriousness of this incident swiftly and were able to quickly arrest Shepherd, who, less than 48 hours after the initial incident, is now starting a significant prison sentence.
“As well as thanking the victim and the eye-witness, we would like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service and the court for the swift manner in which the matter has been dealt with.”